This post contains a bit o’ profanity, so consider yourself warned.
I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t know that much about Chicago, even though I’ve lived here since 2004 and I’ve lived in Illinois all my life. I was fully planning on doing some INTENSE RESEARCH regarding Barry’s questions, but time got away from me and I did the best I could with information from my own widdle brain.
For his last question, however, I figured I call upon someone who knows a lot more about Chicago than I do, and in a nice bit of congruity, this person is also a YA author who will also be at the event of Saturday. Promotions all around! Huzzah!
So I tossed Barry’s final question (“Is it true that Chicago was settled by New Yorkers who liked congestion and overcrowding, but thought it wasn’t cold enough?”) to author Adam Selzer, whose history credentials include running Weird Chicago tours and publishing a book called The Smart Aleck’s Guide to American History (dude also has more websites than anyone else I know).
So, without further ado, here is Adam’s smart-aleck-y yet entirely factual answer for Barry:
The “New Yorkers who thought it wasn’t cold enough” joke is an old one. Our early settlers were a whole string of murderers, brawlers, liars, and assorted ne’er-do-wells. Among them:
Jean Du Sable – first non-Indian to get settle here. He came up from Haiti, and a theory right now is that he was a pirate on the run from the law.
Jean LaLime, who moved in DuSable’s house when Du Sable left (allegedly after getting pissed off that the Potowatomie wouldn’t make him chief).
John Kinzie, who killed Jean LaLime, moved into his house, and buried the body in the front yard (right around the Tribune tower – they accidentally dug him up several decades later and gave the bones to the historical society, who must have been thrilled). He claimed to be the Founder of Chicago and was thought of as such for years, though he was full of shit.
David Kennison – died in the 1850s claiming to be 115 years old and the last survivor of the Boston Tea Party, and was one of Chicago’s first local heroes (despite being, well, completely full of shit).
So, you could say we were founded by a bunch of loudmouths, liars and no-goodniks who somehow came together to found one of the greatest cities in history. And they’re still at it – Kinzie and Kennison were buried in what is now Lincoln Park, their bodies were left there when the cemetery was moved, and are probably still showing up on voting rolls in local elections.
My last question for Barry was if he was planning future awesome swag give-aways for his books, since I loved the Kyra minimates that he used as a promotional material for the release of Goth Girl Rising:
I’m glad you liked the Kyra minimates. That toy was a blast to put together. With any luck, there will be some cool promotional stuff for the graphic novel, but that’s not coming out until fall 2011, so it’s way too early to talk about at this point.
I’m imagining laser guns and a pony with face markings like a villain’s mask. I hope I’m right!
Even though the questions have all been answered, we’re not done yet! I’ll be stalking authors attending the event on Saturday, so that will be the button on this lil series of chats with Barry. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed putting them together.